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January 1, 2019: National Current Affairs
1. Senate panel clears bill seeking to amend exit control ordinance`
• Amidst ongoing controversy over the placement of names of prominent politicians on the Exit Control List (ECL), a Senate panel on December 31, 2018 passed a bill that seeks to amend the Exit from Pakistan (Control) Ordinance, 1981.
• The bill was introduced by former Senate chairman Mian Raza Rabbani in the House and was referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Interior.
• A proposed amendment to the law asks the federal government to specify the grounds for placement of somebody`s name on the ECL and communicate the same within 24 hours to the person barred from travelling abroad.
• In case of an appeal, the government would be required to decide it within 15 days and the order would lapse if it was not done within the specified time.
2. Reference sent to president for NFC reconstitution
• The government on December 31, 2018 sent a reference to President Dr Arif Alvi for reconstitution of the 9th National Finance Commission (NFC) after all the provinces sent in their nominations for their non-statutory members.
• The four provinces had nominated their non-statutory members to the NFC. Sindh has nominated Asad Syed for the position, while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has named Musharraf Rasool as their private member to the commission.
• Balochistan has nominated former finance secretary Mahfooz Ali Khan and also demanded an increase in its share out of the federal divisible pool taxes on the basis of the 6th population census that showed its population had increased, while those of other provinces had reduced when compared to the population count of 1997.
• The Punjab government has sent several names and the finance ministry is reported to have supported Anwar Ahmad`s nomination as a non statutory member of the most populous province.
3. Militant attacks declined by 45pc in 2018
• The year 2018 saw a remarkable reduction of 45pc in militant attacks in Pakistan.
• A study conducted by Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies showed that the security situation significantly improved in the year as the number of attacks, resultant deaths as well as injuries declined by 45pc, 37pc and 49pc, respectively, compared to 2017. The number of suicide attacks also declined.
• Militants carried out 229 attacks in different provinces in which 577 people were killed 356 civilians, 152 security forces personnel and 67 militants. Besides, 959 people were injured, including 693 civilians and 261 security personnel. But the ratio of security forces` casualties per attack significantly increased in 2018 compared to 2017.
• A consistent decline in militant attacks was noticed since the launch of Operation Zarb-i-Azb in June 2014. The average militant attacks per month declined from 35 in 2017 to 19 in 2018. In 2014, it was 134 which dropped to 59 in2015and42in2016.
• Balochistan remained the most troubled province where the highest number of militant attacks (99), highest number of deaths (354) and highest number of injured (570) were recorded.
• Of the total attacks in the country, 61pc of the deaths and 59pc of the injuries took place in Balochistan.
• The second highest number of attacks (65) was recorded in the erstwhile Fata in which 107 people were killed and 150 injured.
• In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 40 attacks were recorded in which 72 people were killed and 174 injured. As many as 14 attacks were reported from Sindh in which 21 people were killed and 20 injured.
4. HDP candidate Qadir Nayel wins by-poll in Quetta
• Hazara Democratic Party`s (HDP) candidate Qadir Nayel won the by-election on December 31, 2018 for the Balochistan Assembly`s constituency of BP-26 (Quetta-III).
• According to unofficial results, Mr Nayel who was enjoying the support of the ruling Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), Awami National Party (ANP), Jamiat Ulema-iIslam-Sami and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) obtained 5,272 votes against 4,257 ballots polled by his rival Maulana Wali Muhammad Turabi.
• However, the seat later fell vacant after the Election Commission of Pakistan disqualified Mr Kohzad by declaring him an Afghan national.
5. 660MW CPHGC power plant connected to national grid
• The China Power Hub Generation Company (CPHGC) has successfully synchronised one of its two 660MW coal fired power plants with the national grid, the company announced on December 31, 2018.
• The synchronisation of the first unit was achieved ahead of schedule and was realised within the agreed technical parameters, said the company release. After the commencement of commercial operations at CPHG C, the project will add 9 billion kWh of electricity of the national grid every year meeting electricity needs of 4 million households in the country. The project will run on imported coal and will operate with super-critical technology at a total installed capacity of 1,320MW. The company also announced that it plans to complete the second 660MW unit within the stipulated time and synchronisation would be completed by Aug 2019.
6. Afghan DPs convert rocks into green farm in Chagai village
• Afghan refugees in the remote district of Chagai have transformed rocks and desert into a green farm, contributing to the local economy and a better environment with the help of UNHCR and the technical support of FAO.
• Posti refugee village is a self-sufficient organic farm in barren hills of a rocky desen area in Chagai district of Balochistan.
• The village is situated about 65 kilometres from Dalbandin, the main city of Chagai.
• Farm products of the village are well known in local markets and its vegetables, especially luffa, have become very popular in Dalbandin.
January 1, 2019: International Current Affairs
7. Trump repeats pledge to withdraw troops from `never-ending wars`
• US President Donald Trump reignited the pullout debate on December 31, 2018 with a series of tweets, reiterating his pledge to call back all American troops from `never-ending wars.
• Last week, Mr Trump ordered the Pentagon to execute the `full` and `rapid` withdrawal of US military from Syria, while his aides said that the president also plans to withdraw half of the 14,000 US troops still deployed in Afghanistan.
• The two decisions were widely criticised both in and outside the US and earlier this week a White House National Security official Garrett Marquis told journalists that the president has not yetordered the reported partial withdrawal from Afghanistan.
8. UK appoints first food waste chief
• Britain appointed its first food waste chief on December 31, 2018 to help drive a campaign to reduce the millions of tonnes of food binned every year by restaurants, supermarkets and manufacturers.
• Ben Elliot was appointed to the one-year voluntary role of Food Surplus and Waste Champion by Environment Secretary Michael Gove.
• Food waste is increasing viewed as unethical in a world of rising hunger, as well as environmentally destructive, dumped in landfills where it rots, releasing greenhouse gases, while fuel, water, and energy needed to grow, store and carry it is wasted.
9. NASA spaceship zooms towards farthest world ever photographed
• A Nasa spaceship is zooming towards the farthest, and quite possibly the oldest, cosmic body ever photographed by humankind, a tiny, distant world called Ultima Thule about 6.4 billion kilometres away.
• Real-time video of the actual flyby is impossible, since it takes more than six hours for a signal sent from Earth to reach the spaceship, named New Horizons, and another six hours for the response to arrive. But if all goes well, the first images should be in hand by the end of New Year`s Day.
January 1, 2019: Sports Current Affairs
10. `Sri Lanka cricket rated most corrupt by ICC`
• Sri Lanka has been rated as the most corrupt cricket nation by the world governing body, the country`s sports minister said on December 31, 2018.
• The International Cricket Council feels `Sri Lanka`s cricket administration is corrupt from top to bottom` Harin Fernando said, adding that he had been shown a confidential report on the matter at a Dubai meeting.
• A host of scandals have rocked Sri Lankan cricket in recent years including a match-fixing controversy revealed in a sting operation carried out for a TV documentary.
• The ICC anti-corruption unit has regularly investigated cases in the island nation.
• The crisis-ridden Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) is to hold delayed elections in February, which were due last May when the term of president Thilanga Sumathipala ended.